Epiphany 5 2023
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
February 5, 2023
Is. 58:3-9a, 1 Cor. 2:1-16, Matt. 5:13-20


Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship


            Do you believe Jesus?  Do you believe what Jesus says about you? 

Matthew 4 begins with Jesus down at the Jordan River near Jericho after His baptism.  He is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and then to be tempted by the devil.  Afterwards, Jesus learns that John the Baptist has been arrested and Jesus leaves the Jordan and heads north to Galilee through Nazareth up to Capernaum by the Sea.  There, in Galilee of the Gentiles, the light dawns.  Jesus begins to preach, saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The reign and rule of heaven is at hand in Jesus Himself; He is the Christ, He is the King.  Along the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum Jesus calls four fishermen to leave their nets and follow Him, and Andrew and Peter, James and John follow Jesus.  Matthew 4:23–25 (ESV) 23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.”

            The great crowds now following Jesus are too big for the synagogues and must make it difficult to navigate in the tight confines of Capernaum or the other cities, so, in order to teach, Jesus goes up on a hillside and sits down and the four fishermen and the other followers come to Him and Jesus begins to teach.  Jesus teaches with authority and His teaching is earth shattering.  Jesus declares, those who are spiritually weak are blessed for eternity.  Those who mourn are blessed.  Those who are lowly, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, those who seek the true God, those who make peace, those who are persecuted, are blessed.  Jesus declares that those who struggle because of faith in Jesus are blessed with a blessing for eternity.  Those who are poor in spirit mourn all the trouble in the world.  The powerless are desperate for things to be made right.  This is the status and attitude of those who follow Jesus.  You are weak, the world is evil, and you want things to be better.  Jesus says this is who you are as one of His followers. 

The beatitudes are the doorway to be able to grasp the rest of the Sermon on the Mount which shows you how to live as a follower of Jesus.  Jesus is giving radical teaching and He reiterates all this in a condensed form in Matthew 16:24–26 (ESV) 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

            Advertisers never tell you to deny yourself.  Deny yourself and take up your cross is not a message you get from the world.  Jesus is teaching a new way to live in love.  The nine beatitudes are the doorway to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus teaches a radical way to live in your new identity as a disciple of Jesus born again with water and the Spirit. 

            Jesus declares, Matthew 5:13 (ESV) 13 “You are the salt of the earth,” and the way Jesus says this in Greek is emphatic, more like, “You, my disciples, and not others, are the salt of the earth.”  You are that which salts the earth.  But if that salt has become tasteless, by what means will the earth be salted.  If you lose your saltiness, who will salt the earth?  Jesus declares that you, His followers, are the ones to salt the earth.  You bring flavor to a bland, joyless world.  You preserve in an evil, rotting world.  You are the antidote for rottenness.  You make the world a better place. 

            Youare that which gives light to the world. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)  16 … let your light shine before others…”  Now this sounds a bit strange from Jesus.  Letting your light shine before others sounds like you are showing off how good you are, but letting your light shine is not to bring glory to you. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)  16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. 

            This is a radical new approach to life.  Maybe Jesus is cancelling the law.  Maybe… Jesus is getting rid all of the laws and now you are free to live however you want.  Indeed, through His sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus cancels the condemnation of the law, but He calls you, the salt and the light of the world to live as a follower of Jesus.  You can do what you want.  What does a Christian want to do? 

In His Sermon there on the hillside Jesus gives new, enhanced instructions for how to live; not just live by the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law.  Jesus teaches that you are to live not with the law as a fence to keep you just outside the world of sin, but live with love as the center of your life so you do not test the limits of the law.  Jesus teaches how to live as a redeemed child of God.  This is how you are Salt and light to the world.  This is how you live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way to salt the earth and bring light to the world.  Live by the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. 

This is how you are salt and light in the world.  This is how you live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  You do the things you have been given to do and make the world a better place because, you, a follower of Jesus, are in the world as salt and light.  You fight rot and darkness by living out your identity in Christ. 

            Not only do not murder, do not get angry with your neighbor.  Not only do not commit adultery, do not think lustful thoughts.  Do not get divorced for any and every reason.  Do not take oaths; just tell the truth and let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Do not retaliate.  Go the extra mile.  Love your enemies.  Pray for those who persecute you.  Love those who don’t love you.  Do not make a show of your righteousness in order to impress others, so give in secret, pray in secret, fast in secret.  Serve God and not money.  Trust that God will provide and don’t worry about food and clothing.  Don’t make yourself the judge of others.  Worry about your own sins first.  Do not worry about the speck in your brother’s eye when there is a log in your own eye.  Ask God for what you need.  Treat others like you want to be treated.  Beware of false teachers.  Build your faith on the rock of Jesus. 

This is how you are salt and light in the world.  This is how you live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  You do the things you have been given to do and make the world a better place because, you, a follower of Jesus, are in the world as salt and light.  You fight rot and darkness by living out your identity in Christ. 

            Jesus’ teaching is radically authoritative because He is not telling you what someone else has said.  Jesus has no footnotes from other sources.  Jesus teaches from His own authority.  He is God in flesh.  He is the Christ.  He is the Lamb of God ready to sacrifice Himself on the cross to save you. 

            This call to be salt and light is a difficult message. Jesus does not promise you an easy life. He does not promise you a successful life.  He promises you a blessed life even in your struggles.  He promises a blessed life for eternity.  He promises you eternal life with Him.

For now, He tells you who you are as a follower of Jesus.  You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  This is who you are.  Believe Jesus.  Amen.